Lists consisting of client details, schedules, strategies, budgeting information, payroll … along with employees and the product or service on offer, data is indisputably a critical part of a company’s most precious commodities, and protecting that data by backing it up should be a priority.
Backing up data is not something only large corporations ought to be concerned about. A recent analysis by Hewlett Packard and a non-profit small business group called SCORE quoted statistics revealing that 70% of small companies that suffer a major data loss go out of business within a year.

Companies are well aware that data loss can have crippling or even catastrophic consequences for their business. The 2012 CDW Data Loss Straw Poll found that IT professionals view data loss as their number one security threat.

Apart from being a major inconvenience, it is incredibly costly too. The Ponemon Institute reported that in 2011, data loss losses amounted to an average of $5,5-million in costs for each company affected.

Data loss can happen in various ways: either through human error, infrastructure being destroyed following a natural disaster, or due to cybercrime. Despite these very real threats, a survey conducted last year by accounting software company Sage found that only 38% of small businesses have a plan to deal with a data disaster.

And it is not as if there is a lack of options to backup data. There are various methods available to keep precious data safe. What the best one is has been up for debate for a while now, says Lutz Blaeser, MD of Intact Security, a dedicated IT security software distributor.

“Tape backup, that method by which data is periodically backed up – either manually or automatically – from a company’s computers and copied over to a tape cartridge device, has been a trusty way for companies to backup their data for a long time,” Blaeser explains.

“This method has been around since the 1950s. Despite that time span being akin to centuries in the tech world, tape has, rather remarkably, managed to evolve with changing technology to remain a worthy contender to this day.”

Disk is another backup method. It has been around for just as long as tape, and which of the two is the better backup system has been one of the longest running debates in the IT world.

“And now yet another challenger has stepped into the ring to vie for the title,” Blaeser says. “And by some accounts, it might be the one to finally, completely oust tape from the competition.”

Cloud/data centre storage services that act as an offsite storage and archival medium are threatening to overshadow tape as the traditional backup of choice and making it entirely obsolete.

“Although tape has been the staple for many organisations for years to back up large amounts of data without breaking the bank, those who are defecting say that it has become slower in recent years,” Blaeser says.

“The system is complex to manage and tapes are also not very durable and have to be replaced regularly. It is prone to human error too, because those companies that can’t afford autoloaders run the risk of forgetting to swop out the tapes, which means that data is lost anyway, since it will be taped over.

“As a ZDNet blogger recently pointed out, the mechanical tape loaders are prone to breakage with tapes getting stuck in the drives. And unless the tapes are stored off-site, they run the risk of not providing recovery during a disaster.”

Up until now, tape’s main selling point has been that it is cost effective, but Blaeser points out that doesn’t even hold true anymore since disks have been decreasing in price as well.

“However, like tape, disk backups also require hardware and administration costs and will also not be useful for disaster recovery unless they are stored at a different location. And that in itself causes other problems such as safely transporting it there as well as concerns about compliance and security,” Blaeser says.

“The cloud/data centre infrastructure offered by resellers is cost effective and it offers more flexibility than both disk and tape, since it allows multiple technology configurations and also enables users to access the
stored data swiftly and from anywhere,” Blaeser says.
“Even if your business premises get struck by some sort of disaster such as a fire or a flood, or even if a person accidentally wipes crucial information, it will be easy to recover from the cloud from where it can be restored to the system.”

This is the reason that Intact Security helps enable its resellers to build their own cloud to help facilitate their customers’ requirements. Through its partnership with Storagecraft, the company makes it possible for resellers to provide a variety of options in offsite backup and disaster recovery.

“Accidents and disasters can strike at any time. Unpreparedness could spell the end for your business. By providing our resellers with the expertise and technology to offer this cloud solution, we are helping them supply an end-to-end offering to their customers,” Blaeser says.